Random Notes

Converting IBM Wheelwriter to USB Keyboard

The first part of this post contains background on how I got the keyboard and how I progressed with it. If you’d like to jump straight into the conversion instructions, click here.

Quick link to GitLab repo of this project: Nicd/qmk_firmware

Obtaining the Wheelwriter

After getting my Cherry finished, my brother messaged me that his company was emptying their old office and were throwing away some sort of IBM typerwiter. He asked if I would be interested in taking it instead, to save it from going to the landfill. Of course I was, and so I was soon in possession of a working IBM Wheelwriter 6747-2. The Wheelwriter is an electric typerwiter introduced by IBM in 1984 to replace the earlier Selectric. It has a keyboard with similar construction to that of the famous IBM Model M, using the same buckling spring mechanism. The unit my brother saved for me is from 1986.

I myself had no use for a typewriter, but I was very interested in its keyboard, that seemed to be in perfect condition. All the keys responded properly, so it was just a matter of disconnecting the keyboard and converting it into USB usage. This is how my conversion story started.

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Mebe 2: Elixir Boogaloo

After quite some time in development, I’ve now deployed Mebe 2 on this site, to replace the aging Mebe codebase. The earlier blog engine was written with Phoenix, which while being a great framework, was a bit heavy handed for the engine’s minimal needs. Mebe 2 has the old engine’s Markdown parsing and DB logic, but the web side is totally rewritten. The framework I chose is Raxx, because it’s quite minimal but also mainly because I just wanted to learn it. Alternatives are good.

The new blog engine has proper Distillery releases, so keeping it running and making new fixes and features is a lot easier. It’s still in very early development, though, as it’s missing tests and proper docs et cetera, but I figured I’d start dogfooding it already, as this remake process has kept me from writing new posts. So hopefully in the near future I’ll come out with some new stuff! See you till then!

Restoring a Cherry G80-1000 Keyboard

I’ve always loved retro keyboards. Back at my previous job I used to use a Keytronic keyboard that I salvaged from the university’s trash room. I liked the 80’s/90’s beige aesthetic, the huge keys, and the sound of typing on it. But it wasn’t a mechanical keyboard, just rubber dome. Once I got to type on a mechanical keyboard, I knew I wanted one, but that meant I had to put my trusty Keytronic to the side.

So about a month ago, I was very surprised and excited when I found an old looking keyboard in the trash bin at my current employer.

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Combining Audio Tracks in a Video With Ffmpeg

I use OBS Studio to store replays of my games with my friends for later. OBS writes two audio tracks to the file, one for game audio and one for my mic. I was surprised to find that multi-track files were not properly supported by many programs like Handbrake (or YouTube for that matter), so I needed to combine the audio tracks.

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Changing User-Agent Header in an Atom Editor Plugin

When improving Code::Stats’s Atom plugin, I wanted to add the plugin version as the User-Agent header: code-stats-atom/x.y.z. I used the fetch API and set the header there but it did nothing! By googling a bit I found that User-Agent used to be a “dangerous” header that wasn’t allowed to be set in browsers. It was only recently allowed, but Chromium has not implemented support for it.

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Testing GitLab and Moving Mebe

I’ve known GitLab has existed for a long time, but haven’t really paid any attention to it before. This week I decided to take a closer look and it looks really nice. The UI is much better than the new horrid BitBucket UI at least, and it offers free private repos like BitBucket does. As a bonus, it’s mostly open source and that’s something I want to support.

So I’m moving at least all my stuff from BitBucket over, like Mebe’s repo. Not sure yet if I’ll move Code::Stats’s stuff over. GitLab’s builtin CI stuff does seem tempting though.

MBU Published to Hex.pm

People commented so nicely on my first build tool FBU that I decided to push it to the Elixir package manager Hex.pm. I renamed it, though, since people pointed out that it could be used to build anything, not just the front end. So now it’s called (still unimaginatively) MBU: Mix Build Utilities.

You can find it at hex.pm/packages/mbu and the docs are in Hexdocs.

FBU: My First Build Tool™

EDIT 2017-04-04: I have since renamed the project to MBU: Mix Build Utilities and published it on Hex.pm: hex.pm/packages/mbu. I have edited the links and code examples in this post to reflect that.


tl;dr I wrote my own build tool using Elixir’s Mix: Nicd/mbu.

It’s no secret that I somewhat dislike the state of modern web development. JavaScript is its own terrible world, but one of the sad parts of it is the ecosystem and tooling around it. There’s a lot of innovation and hard work going on in very many fragmented projects, resulting in reimplementations of already solved problems and a ton of half working, alpha quality, 0.x versioned packages with unknown support status. With these packages, you start your project by building an elaborate house of cards that is the build system. And you dread the day when you need to touch it again.

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Pirames International: YouTube Copyright Trolls

As part of my Trainfulness project, I sometimes upload Creative Commons licensed videos to YouTube. I always make sure I have the proper licence, as I want to play fair with content creators such as NRK (the Norwegian Broadcasting Company). But lately I have received a couple of copyright claims from the company Pirames International. This would not be that much of an issue if YouTube did not make handling the cases extremely frustrating.

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Load Testing Service Comparison

This post is sponsored by Dotcom-Monitor.


Load testing is an integral part of deploying any web service. It should be done already in the development phase to find bottlenecks and after deployment when users’ usage patterns are better known. That’s not where it stops, though, as load testing can also be used as a regular part of the web service’s maintenance. Deploying new features without checking their effect on the performance of the service can be a fatal mistake, which is why load testing could be very important when integrated with a continuous integration or continuous deployment system.

In this article, I will review four different load testing services (in alphabetic order): Spirent’s Blitz.io, Load Impact, SendGrid’s Loader.io, and Dotcom-Monitor’s LoadView.

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